“Things are never what they seem with the women in this family”

Ha ha!! Rumour Has It is finally looking up. The best scene is the comic escalation of emotion between Shirley MacClane and Jennifer Aniston’s characters, when Aniston is back from her own tryst with the man who slept with her grandmother and her mother 30 years previously.

The next moment is equally golden with a screamed-out phone conversation conducted by Aniston’s grandmother and father, with Aniston a bubbling mess on one end and her sister an emotional, streaky-eyed mess, flipping out over being newly married on the other end of the line.

I thought Rumour Has It would be a dull homage to The Graduate’s misogyny towards women older than 40. It does begin with Aniston sleeping with a 30 years older Kevin Costner, who -despite not being exactly grizzled- doesn’t have a youthful spring in his step either. He surrounds himself with toys for adults -cool cars and personal planes- name drops through all his conversations, and has photos of himself meeting world leaders in his bedroom. A movie made today would’ve called that out for the obvious shtick that is. If I had met Castro and was proud of it, I wouldn’t decorate my bedroom with the photograph. Maybe an office space, to let people know it had happened. One could argue that because in general 50 to 60 year old men are not desirable to women decades younger,they need to be decked out to make it seem possible in a movie. But I saw zero chemistry between Costner and Aniston, and a lot more between her and the guy playing Costner’s son.

Which brings me to another sore point. Why does she have to freeze him out, like he’s a lower life form, like an amphibian in a dinner suit? I mean, why is Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) glamourised while sleeping with three generation of women from the same family, and Aniston as the protagonist has to maintain a “Don’t touch me!” vibe when talking to a very cute man who turns out to be his son?  She is clearly portrayed (at exactly 10 years older, I checked their birth dates) to be vastly above this gorgeous man, sporting an identical brand of flippy-haired, blonde good looks. I mean, simply in terms of life experience, and of course there’s all that knowledge of the world garnered through her job of writing obituaries for news papers.

But when Shirley MacClane finally screeches out, cursing Burroughs for being a “horny bastard”, I finally laugh and laugh because something shifts and the perspective changes. The minor meltdown of the sisters on either end of the phone, and the collective family effort to hold things together is the crystallising moment where the movie  departs from The Graduate. I guess that movie was other things too, but too many reviews and short summaries sum it up as “vampy, predatory older woman sleeps with college graduate”. Where is Costner’s vampiness?See!? You find it hard to associate the word with him! No shots gliding up and down his legs and focusing on a toned, glistening torso, I see. When he is attractive, his attractiveness has strength, it does not make him vulnerable to censure or consumable, the way I remember Anne Bancroft. So f- off Mr.Costner, because I do not believe you for one second.

I have watched this movie before, and I think I remember him being dumped. I hope that’s what happens. I think this movie would’ve been interesting if he got back with Shirley MacClane. Why should she be beyond romantic illusion? But women (non-heroines) begin with hope and end with cynicism . The heroine begins with prudence and thus keepth her balance dancing on the edge of sanction just above the descent into censure, in this world. Ha!

Edit: I guess I can forgive Beau Burrough after all, because of the proactive karma that led the father character to be the one who accidentally rendered him sterile in a football game 40 years prior. Also, the movie makes space for MacClane’s angst over being passed over by a younger person, when she was “13 years younger” then he is currently in the movie when she faces up to him. All the same, do you think life has that finality to it? Do you think people IRL feel dateable until they meet their Beau Burroughs, and then read the writing on the wall? It seems to me that there is a range of taste that can be accommodated, though not portrayed. What I mean is, I think you can feed on stereotype after stereotype, and listen to instruction every day, and then surprisingly enough your own mind will betray you. Like I read somewhere, about the force of a blade of grass pushing its head through a slab of concrete, you discover an untaught reaction. You know something else.

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